A spouse can claim alimony in Mississippi during a divorce. This can allow them to receive financial support when they need it the most. But there is not an average alimony in Mississippi and it will differ from case to case.
That is why it is important to find out more about the topic. So, let’s get started and look at Mississippi alimony laws.
What Is Spousal Support Mississippi?
Spousal support, which is commonly referred to as alimony, is a way to financially support a spouse after a divorce. There are many circumstances that mean one spouse will be disadvantaged from a break up. The purpose of alimony is to support them and allow the spouse to enjoy the same standard of living after a divorce.
There are different types of alimony available in Mississippi. Namely, there is periodic, rehabilitative, lump sum and reimbursement alimony. While periodic and lump sum alimony payments are self-explanatory, there are factors to consider for rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony.
With rehabilitative alimony, the goal is to support a spouse in order to become financially independent. This can mean alimony payments will pay for education or to allow the spouse to build certain skills.
With reimbursement alimony, the purpose is to give money back to a spouse that has helped the other during the marriage. For example, if one spouse pays for a college degree during the marriage, the other spouse may have to pay reimbursement alimony after the divorce.
How Is Alimony Paid in Mississippi?
There are two ways that alimony can be paid to a spouse and a family court judge will decide what is going to be best in the circumstances. A spouse can enjoy a lump sum alimony, which is going to be a fixed total amount. This can be awarded in one payment or a spouse can receive it over a specific period of time.
Alternatively, a spouse can receive their alimony through periodic payments. As the name suggests, this is going to mean that money will be given in installments. It is important to note that this type of alimony is to be modified by circumstances. For instance, if a spouse dies or the spouse receiving alimony remarries, this can end the payments.
How Does a Judge Calculate Alimony in Mississippi?
Some states have guidelines or a formula a judge uses to calculate the alimony a spouse will receive upon divorce. However, this is not something that happens in Mississippi.
Instead, a family court judge is going to have a lot of freedom in a case. They will look at the circumstances of each spouse and what their lifestyle is. Thus, they use their own discretion to decide what the alimony payment is going to be.
This does mean that it can be difficult to know how much alimony a spouse will receive beforehand. Indeed, the decision could vary from judge to judge. Spouses will have to provide the judge with appropriate evidence and await their decision.
– What Factors Count for the Award of Alimony?
A family court judge will decide very carefully whether it is appropriate to award alimony to one spouse when they are getting a divorce. In order to make their decision, they are going to consider a number of factors. We listed some of them below:
- The income of the spouses
- The expenses of the spouses
- The health and age of the spouses
- The length of the marriage
- The assets attained during the marriage
- Whether there are any children of the marriage
- If there has been any fault by a spouse during the marriage
These are some examples of factors judges will often consider. But, if they find that there are other relevant factors for the case, they can take these into account.
– Is Standard of Living Important in Alimony Awards?
Often, one of the most important factors in alimony decisions is standard of living. This is in regards to the spouse receiving alimony, as well as the partner that is going to be paying it through a lump sum or regular installments.
The judge will want to make sure that the alimony they award is able to give the receiving spouse the same standard of living as they have in the marriage. But it is equally important that the spouse providing the alimony is able to maintain the same type of lifestyle too. Nobody should have to suffer as a result of the divorce and the judge strives to be fair for both parties.
Is Spousal Maintenance Gender Neutral in Mississippi?
Anyone is able to claim alimony in a divorce. This means that the process is gender neutral and this is not going to be something that is important in the case. The main purpose of spousal maintenance is to financially support a spouse that needs it after splitting from their partner.
When it comes to statistics, it is more likely that a wife will request spousal maintenance. This is often due to the husband having a job while the wife looks after the home and children. But, if the roles were reversed, the husband is just as likely to be given alimony by a family court judge.
Can Alimony Payments Be Modified?
The modification of alimony payments is indeed possible if the arrangement includes regular installments. But, this is only going to happen in certain circumstances and when it is necessary to do so. Payments cannot be simply changed because a spouse no longer wants to pay what they have previously agreed to.
A spouse is always able to petition to the court to change the amount of alimony they are paying. However, they will have to explain why this request is necessary and important for their financial circumstances. A common example is if they lose their job and can no longer afford the payments. Alternatively, there could have been an emergency situation that means they cannot meet their obligations.
It is essential to note that a voluntary change in financial circumstances may mean that a judge does not change alimony installments. If someone quits their job or chooses to purchase an expensive car, meaning they have less money to pay alimony, this is not going to be acceptable for a court. The changes in circumstances have to be genuine and out of the control of the spouse.
Are There Consequences if You Do Not Pay Alimony?
It is a bad idea to ignore alimony payments in Mississippi. This is not something that is taken lightly and there can be legal consequences. A debt is going to build up and this is called alimony arrears.
For example, the spouse that should receive alimony can bring a small claims court case against the other spouse. This means that you will end up having to pay all of the alimony arrears and perhaps a penalty.
Another consideration is that a judge can serve you with a contempt of court charge. This can mean having to pay a financial penalty. It could even end up with a jail sentence. In addition, it is possible for a lien to be put on property. This can happen if the alimony arrears are not being paid and this can become public record.
Is Mississippi Spousal Maintenance Tax Deductible?
If you are going to be receiving alimony from an ex-partner, you should be aware of any tax implications that come with that payment. It used to be the case that alimony in Mississippi was tax deductible. In other words, the spouse paying the alimony was able to deduct the amount from the tax they paid. Likewise, the receiving spouse would report the spousal maintenance as income.
However, this position is changing. Since 2019, alimony payments will not be tax deductible. In addition, the spouse that is awarded alimony will not have to report the payments as income.
Not all spouses come out of a divorce in a good shape and this is where alimony comes in. Mississippi recognizes spousal support after a drastic change in someone’s life and this financial support can help them to maintain the standard of living they are used to. Let’s summarize the important elements of alimony in Mississippi.
- Alimony allows financial support from one spouse to another after a divorce.
- There are four types of alimony, which are periodic, rehabilitative, lump sum and reimbursement.
- Alimony can be paid in one fixed total or in regular installments, which can change over time.
- There is no formula to calculate alimony in Mississippi and the judge will use their own discretion.
- There are a range of factors to award alimony, such as the length of the marriage and income of the spouses.
- Spousal maintenance is gender neutral in this state.
- If a partner remarries or dies, this can stop alimony payments.
- Alimony arrears happen if you do not pay the fixed sum or installments agreed upon in court and you can face a charge of contempt of court.
- Alimony payments are no longer tax deductible and the spouse receiving the money does not have to report payments as income anymore.
After reading this guide, you know what are your options in case you are going through a divorce where alimony payments are involved. We hope this will help you make informed choices that will benefit your financial situation!
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